Helpful Posts Helpful Posts:  0
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

  1. #1

    Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    I'm a photo student, just got my first DSLR (Nikon D90), and want to start out in macro photography. Out of these two lenses, which would be best for me? (Or please suggest something in a similar price range). Thanks!

    http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-50mm-Nik...8104659&sr=8-2

    http://www.amazon.com/Sigma-70-300mm...8104659&sr=8-6

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Provence, France
    Posts
    906
    Real Name
    Remco

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Strictly speaking, neither of these two is a macro lens (i.e. gives an image at 1:1 magnification).

    That said, the Sigma goes to 0.5x magnification (a 2 cm subject will take about 1 cm on the sensor) at 300mm. Also, the working distance is quite comfortable (95 cm closest focussing, with a 50mm you would be working at about 15-20 cm), and allows you to approach insects and small animals a bit easier. As the 50 mm has a closest focus at 45 cm, it would give a magnification of about 1/6th, or 0.15 (very coarse estimate).

    I'm still saving for a real macro lens myself, as I haven't seen one under about 500€. Until then the Sigma satisfies me. Do keep in mind that you are working close-up with a 300 mm lens, so short shutter times or tripod are mandatory (and as it is a F5.6 lens, short shutter times often mean high ISO...).

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    11,263

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    This is a commonly asked question; and the standard answer is 'It depends on what you want to photograph'.

    But remember, as Remco said, any good quality true macro lens will be expensive.

    You can get away with a smaller lens for flowers or most inanimate objects where you can get really close, but live insects are a different matter.

    Before getting a true macro lens I used a Canon 70-300 plus a 25 mm extension tube to get a little bit closer, and the results were tolerable. But only when used on a tripod in good light.

    I now use a Sigma 180 mm macro which gives me a reasonable amount of working distance from temperamental insects. However, that sort of lens will be beyond your budget.

    The Sigma 150 mm macro lens is a bit cheaper and popular with insect photographers. Lenses around 100 mm make good flower, etc, photos but you would miss quite a lot of insects, or shoot them rather small.

    But with regard to your exact question. Perhaps more to the point is which of those lenses would be most useful for other types of photography as well as macro? And once again we need more details of your intentions.

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    15,983
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Hi Olivia,

    Welcome to the CiC forums from me, it's good to jump straight in with a question.

    As Remco says, we really need to know what sort of macro you are mostly interested in, it could be anything;
    - flowers
    - insects
    - jewellery
    - lichens

    Each of these might have more or less rigourous needs
    - flowers - for these you probably won't need 1:1, the 50mm will be about right, need a still day if outside
    - insects - for these you will need to keep your distance, so the 70-300mm will be better, but 1:2 might not be enough for bees and certainly not for ants/termites sized critters, a 100/105mm as an absolute minimum, better still, a 150/180/200mm lens that goes to 1:1
    - jewellery - the easier option, shoot in a mini-studio, if small, you might need a larger magnification than the 50mm will give, i.e. a proper closer focusing lens like a 60mm or 100/105mm
    - lichens - definitely need 1:1 for seeing structure in these, but it doesn't matter how close you get, again a 60mm or 100/105mm macro lens will be best, but as Remco says, the are not cheap, unless you go s/h

    Flash, especially ring flash (again not cheap) will freeze the action and allow some handholding if chasing bugs around the garden.

    Currently I'm using a 105mm Nikon VR lens and the on-camera flash and producing stuff like this;
    Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    or my (non-macro, 1.5m focusing) 70-300mm VR for shots like this
    Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Do hit F11 and then click on images to see them bigger

    These were both a bit cropped from full frame capture size, increasing the apparent magnification a bit.

    Hope that helps,

  5. #5
    Clactonian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    The Essex Sunshine Coast
    Posts
    1,155
    Real Name
    Mike Bareham

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Hmmmm! I haven't used my 70-300 for close-up work, tending to stick with my Sigma 150 macro. Maybe I'll give it a try having seen your excellent results Dave.

  6. #6
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    28,743
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clactonian View Post
    Hmmmm! I haven't used my 70-300 for close-up work, tending to stick with my Sigma 150 macro. Maybe I'll give it a try having seen your excellent results Dave.
    Through my readings there is some debate as to what is a wide angle/macro lens. I have seen postings and even text written where it matters more how you take advantage of the equipment than in what the specifications suggest.

  7. #7
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    1,971
    Real Name
    Peter

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    I have Nikon gear and use a 180m Tamron that I am very happy with. I will also use the 70 - 300 for different DOF and blur effects. The combination of both gives great choice on how you want to portray the subject.

    Always read the thread under ‘General Photography Discussion’ titled ‘Need some help ‘predicting bokeh. (For some unknown reason I could not post the link to the thread – sorry).

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    15,983
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clactonian View Post
    Hmmmm! I haven't used my 70-300 for close-up work, tending to stick with my Sigma 150 macro. Maybe I'll give it a try having seen your excellent results Dave.
    Well, as you'll know, the Nikon 70-300mm has no special claim to being a macro lens (no magnification factors on the lens barrel like a Sigma), but it does focus to 1.5m and I use it there for Dragonflies typically, where, with a bit of cropping I can get these.

    If I switched to my 105mm, by my reckoning, I'd have to be 2/3 closer; at about 0.5m, to get the same size image on the sensor and that would be too close, certainly to start off with. It would then have the ability to focus down even closer and ultimately give me 1:1 - but that's no help with such (relatively) huge beasties.

    With a 150mm, you should be able to replicate what you'd get at 0.75m at the 1.5m distance, which still sounds useful, but no where near 1:1.

    Of course, having got the 105mm macro, there are times when I lust after a 60mm or a 200mm - to get the same close focusability at those angles of view

    Cheers,

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    156

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    For a dabble on a budget, you could do worse than use the lens that you have with add-on close up filters. They are relatively cheap (very, compared to a new lens) and the colour fringing associated with them goes away to some degree automatically with the newer Nikon cameras.

  10. #10
    New Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    6
    Real Name
    Chris

    Re: Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    or my (non-macro, 1.5m focusing) 70-300mm VR for shots like this
    Which lens would be best for a beginner in macro photography?

    Do hit F11 and then click on images to see them bigger

    These were both a bit cropped from full frame capture size, increasing the apparent magnification a bit.

    Hope that helps,
    LOVE this picture. I hope to one day beable to get a Macro lens so I can take really close up pictures.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •